LONDON — Bollywood baddie Robert John Christo, popularly known as Bob Christo, died March 20 in Bangalore, India following a heart attack. He was 72.
Credited with the single monicker Bob, he became the preferred choice for Bollywood scripts requiring a white villain and appeared in more than 200 films including “Mard,” “Kaalia,” “Disco Dancer” and “Mr. India.”
Christo, a civil engineer from Sydney also dabbled in modeling. While waiting for a work permit for a modeling assignment in Muscat, he recalled a Time magazine article on Bollywood actress Parveen Babi and went to India hoping to meet her. Instead, he met actor and helmer Sanjay Khan who gave him a villain’s role in 1980’s “Abdullah.” Christo decided to remain in India and also acted in movies with Babi.
Christo’s career could have taken a different turn if he hadn’t listened to a casting director’s advice.
In an interview earlier this month with the Indian Express newspaper, Christo said he had traveled to the Philippines to do a small part in “Apocalypse Now.” When the casting director found out that Christo was a civil engineer, he persuaded the thesp that building sets was a better option than a small Hollywood role. Christo acquiesced and helped build Cambodian temple and bridge sets, though he is not credited on the film. The part went to Harrison Ford.
2003’s “Aman ke farishtey” was Christo’s last Bollywood role and he retired from the industry to take up a yoga instructor’s position at Khan’s resort near Bangalore.
Christo’s autobiography “Flashback: My Life and Times in Bollywood and Beyond” is out in June.
He is survived by his wife, Nargis, and five children.